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Charity Helping Disabled Youngsters Urgently Needs Help to Survive

Published on: 15 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 17 Nov, 2020

Toby Morris, aged six, who raised more than £1,300 for Challengers by doing a 50km bike ride.

By David Reading

Challengers, the Guildford-based charity that provides recreational activities for disabled youngsters, urgently needs help to survive.

When the first lockdown began in March, the play scheme was forced to close services completely and cancel upcoming fundraising events, threatening their existence.

But now, through an emergency fundraising appeal, there is some hope Challengers will bounce back from this unprecedented crisis.

They are holding an online arts and crafts auction, after artists throughout the Guildford area donated 35 paintings, prints, photography, sculptures and ceramics that will go on sale through the rest of November.

The Facebook auction runs from midday Monday, November 16 till 6pm Sunday, November 29. Facebook. There are details on this web page: https://disability-challengers.org/art-auction/

Work by local artists – donated for the Challengers’ online auction.

Another fundraising boost has come from six-year-old Toby Morris, who raised more than £1,300 during the first lockdown by completing a 50km bike ride. Toby has autism and has been a regular at the Challengers play scheme after school and during weekends.

His mother Natasha said: “Toby has other complex needs and needs full-time care. We have been extremely lucky to have found Challengers at such an early stage in our lives and I’m so grateful for all the support they have given to us as a family.

“Toby loves Challengers and it’s his favourite place ever. He always comes home with a massive smile.”

Carla Gill, Challengers’ head of fundraising and communications, said: “We were devastated to not be able to offer vital respite for the families feeling isolated and exhausted while caring for their disabled child at home.

“Within just the first few months, we saw a significant shortfall of £150,000 from cancelled fundraising activities which we rely so heavily upon to fund our services. This left the future of our charity hanging in the balance.”

Over the past months, the charity has managed to re-open a significant number of services and welcomed back many young people.

Ms Gill added: “Our team has worked extremely hard to implement new procedures and deliver crucial training to staff to ensure we are following all safety guidelines and keeping everyone at our schemes as safe as possible from the risk of Covid-19.

“Our young people are also enjoying regular virtual sessions, doing fun activities such as talent shows, martial arts and baking.

Activities such have these have been impossible during the pandemic – but now things are looking up.

“Through our emergency appeal, virtual fundraisers and online events, we have received an incredible amount of support that has helped us to keep going.

“We rely on donations for half of our yearly income and we must be able to continue providing our lifeline service for the thousands of families that depend on us.”

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